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(January 11, 2001, Gazette)

Video opens window to depression

(L-R) Moyra Buchan, Yvette Goodland and  Debbie McGee(L-R) Moyra Buchan, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Newfoundland and Labrador Division; Yvette Goodland, Memorial University social work student; and Debbie McGee, School of Continuing Education producer for Out of the Dark.

Dec. 13 was a special day for Memorial University social work student, Yvette Goodland. That was the day Out of the Dark: Youth and Depression, a video on Ms. Goodland’s experience with clinical depression, was officially screened to students (along with a full complement of media) at Holy Heart of Mary High School. The video is the handiwork of the School of Continuing Education’s Debbie McGee, but its history goes back beyond that.

A few years ago Moyra Buchan, executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Newfoundland and Labrador Division, was looking for a solution. How does one speak to teenagers about a topic as sensitive as depression in a way that reaches them? She needed a credible speaker to address school groups and demystify this mental illness. Enter Yvette Goodland.

Here’s the ideal candidate. Ms. Goodland articulately and vividly describes what she went through as someone suffering from clinical depression. Seven years ago she attempted suicide and the treatment she received as a result was, for her, like throwing open the windows of a shuttered house.

Ms. Goodland began volunteering with the CMHA partly in fulfillment of requirements for her degree, but her popularity as a guest speaker in the school system intensified. Over five years, she has spoken publically some 200 times – a rewarding experience, but often exhausting as she relived those dark years with each engagement.

With financial support from the Rotary Clubs of St. John’s East and Northwest, the CMHA contacted the School of Continuing Education to prepare a video on Ms. Goodland’s experiences. Ms. McGee was assigned to lead the project and the result is a picture of survival and hope. A video user’s guide and a poster is provided with each copy of the video, which can be purchased through the CMHA (www.nflab.cmha.ca).

Further support to distribute the video throughout the school system came from Shoppers Drug Mart and the provincial Department of Education. It is currently being piloted in selected schools throughout Newfoundland and Labrador, with an eye to incorporating the video into the high school family studies curriculum.

The project was finished just in time. Ms. Goodland left the day after the screening for Australia, where she will complete a final work term before graduating with her social work degree. Ms. Buchan and Ms. McGee are exhilarated with the reception of the video. “I can tell from the silence in the room that the audience is listening to every word, and that’s not easy to achieve with youth audiences,” said Ms. McGee.

As for Ms. Goodland, her head’s probably still whirling from all the media interviews and congratulations she was receiving up to the day she left for Australia. Even though she’s out of the country, she’s helping more people than ever.

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